A successful life and career in a tech field in the Tennessee Valley inspires the family of Tommy Wilson to give back in a way that would have made him proud. An initial gift from Wilson's family will be the foundation of the Tommy Wilson Tool Scholarship Fund benefitting Georgia Northwestern Technical College's (GNTC) Industrial Technology students.
Wilson, after working 35 years with Eureka Foundry in Chattanooga, Tenn., retired at the beginning of 2016. Just 10 weeks later, he passed away. Wilson's nephew just happens to be David Stephenson, GNTC's Athletic Coordinator. In Wilson's name, Stephenson presented a check to the Georgia Northwestern Technical College Foundation Thursday, Sept. 29. GNTC Director of Institutional Advancement Jason Gamel accepted the gift on behalf of the Foundation at the Walker County Campus in Rock Spring, Ga.
"Uncle Tommy graduated from the old Kirkman Technical High School in Chattanooga," Stephenson said. "It led him to a great career with Eureka (Foundry). He worked in drafting and architecture design in regards to industrial systems technology. He would want to give back to those just starting their new careers in the same area of work."
Wilson, with no children of his own, would often tell others that Stephenson was his son. "He was my 'cool' uncle," added Stephenson. "I believe this scholarship would be a great way to honor his life of working successfully in a technical career. He was very helpful to others within his field. Just seems fitting to do this in his name."
His alma mater, Kirkman Technical High School, was located in downtown Chattanooga. The high school closed its doors forever in 1991. It was on a piece of land affectionately known as "Hawk Hill." If you look high atop Hawk Hill these days, you'll find yourself watching the Chattanooga Lookouts play minor league baseball on their home turf, AT&T Field.
"With Kirkman long gone, the family just felt giving to the college's industrial technology programs may be the perfect way to continue his legacy," Stephenson said. "After speaking with the instructors, it wasn't the tuition funds that the students were having the toughest time coming up with. It was tougher for the students to get the money to buy the tools to help them start their careers." Wilson's family is starting the fund in cooperation with the Georgia Northwestern Technical College Foundation with a promised commitment of at least $500 dollars every year.
"We try to encourage private contributions in order to build and maintain outstanding academic and support programs at the college," Gamel said. "Donations to the Foundation support areas of institutional need including scholarships to deserving students, equipment purchases, materials for the library, and staff development."
To give to the Tommy Wilson Tool Scholarship Fund, contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 706.764.3810. You may also e-mail the office at firstname.lastname@example.org.